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Keywords:

  • Spider;
  • Araneae;
  • diversification;
  • agriculture;
  • pest control;
  • natural enemy;
  • scale;
  • microhabitat;
  • habitat;
  • landscape;
  • ecotone;
  • abundance;
  • distribution;
  • intercropping;
  • non-crop strips;
  • reduced tillage;
  • undersowing;
  • mulch;
  • field margin;
  • dispersal;
  • risk

Abstract

A review of the literature showed that spider abundance was increased by diversification in 63% of studies. A comparison of diversification modes showed that spider abundance in the crop was increased in 33% of studies by ‘aggregated diversification’ (e.g. intercropping and non-crop strips) and in 80% of studies by ‘interspersed diversification’ (e.g., undersowing, partial weediness, mulching and reduced tillage). It is suggested that spiders tend to remain in diversified patches and that extending the diversification throughout the whole crop (as in interspersed diversification) offers the best prospects for improving pest control. There is little evidence that spiders walk in significant numbers into fields from uncultivated field edges, but diversification at the landscape level serves to foster large multi-species regional populations of spiders which are valuable as a source of aerial immigrants into newly planted crops. There are very few manipulative field studies where the impact of spiders on pests has been measured in diversified crops compared with undiversified controls. It is encouraging, however, that in those few studies an increased spider density resulted in improved pest control. Future work needs are identified.